Halt Plans for New European Bases
The U.S. military is keen on establishing military bases in every nation, and new NATO members in Eastern Europe top the list. A strong push was made during the Bush administration to establish a base in the Czech Republic, but their citizens recalled the unwelcome presence of "allies" like the Soviets, so they rejected an American outpost. Attempts to establish a base in Poland are ongoing, using the bogus "missile defense" sales strategy. That ruse was recently tried on the new NATO nation of Romania. It agreed to an American "missile defense" base and the U.S. military has begun construction of a new permanent military base at Deveselu airbase, near Caracal, Romania.
Since no nation in Europe faces an external threat, the best American Generals can devise is to demonize Iran, and explain that crazy Muslims may launch nukes to destroy them in future years. American Generals say they will protect them, and spend millions of dollars in their nation, if they cede land for American bases. This was rejected by the Czechs because the Iranians deny they are building nuclear weapons, and there is no hard proof that they are building anything other than nuclear power stations for civilian use. For the past several years, ALL American intelligence agencies have confirmed that Iran is not working on a nuclear weapons program.
Even if Iran developed a basic nuclear weapon, it would require more advanced technology to miniaturize the warhead to fit into a small missile cone. Iran would need to conduct nuclear tests to prove its warheads. The USA and USSR conducted hundreds of tests over many years to develop this expertise. If Iran began nuclear weapons testing, it would face an international embargo and possibly military attack. Moreover, no one can explain why Iran would launch a nuclear weapon at Europe. What would it gain, except massive nuclear retaliation? If Iranian leaders went mad, it would be far easier to send a nuclear weapon to Europe on a cargo ship, to explode in port. This is why our allies have no interest in spending their defense dollars on missile defense. Since our NATO allies are as wealthy as the USA, why should American taxpayers pay for their defense against a non-existent threat?
The most intriguing part of this "missile defense" ruse is the system selected. The missile defense base once proposed for Poland was to host silos for the U.S. Army's Ground Based Interceptor (GBI), a three-stage solid-fuel 14-ton missile with a range of 1250 miles. (left) An Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile arcing from Iran would fly 300 miles high at its midpoint (apogee), so the GBI has plenty of range to cover a large area. These missiles now stand ready at silos in Alaska to defend the USA from Asian threats. There are serious doubts the complex system works since a full-scale, realistic demonstration has never been attempted.
However, the missiles to be placed in Romania cannot work!. For unknown reasons, the USA says it will place small SM-3s there. (shown at right with a proportional size comparison to the GBI at left.) The bigger the missile, the greater the range. SM-3 Block I is a U.S. Navy missile designed for shipboard air defense with a ceiling of 70 miles. As the Navy took an interest in protecting ships and shores from ballistic missiles, it increased its diameter for more propellant with a Block II version to the biggest that can fit into its standard shipboard launch tube. These have been somewhat successfully tested against the Theater Ballistic Missiles, which arc 100 miles high at their apogee. This provides some protection from small ballistic missiles fired at a fleet or landing area.
This SM-3 Block II is 1.5 tons and costs $13 million (compared to the 14-ton $70 million GBI missile). With a ceiling of just 130 miles, it cannot shoot down an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile arcing 300 miles overhead from Iran. Apparently, the GBI deployment would have required billions of dollars to construct huge missile silos, and there was no support in Congress. The small SM-3 is fired from a mobile tube, so it costs little to deploy, allowing the Pentagon to establish two new bases without extra Congressional funding.
During a 2010 Senate Armed Services committee hearing about missile defense programs, a senator asked why the SM-3 was chosen since its range is too limited. U.S. Army Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, declined to comment, and offered to answer the question behind closed doors. His entire testimony was later removed from the committee website. All congressmen need to learn the answer to this mystery. Most likely, the senator was spun a tale of wondrous new technologic breakthroughs that will double the range of the SM-3 without making it larger, which have yet to be developed, but can be if billions of dollars are provided. Even if range was somehow doubled to a 300-mile ceiling, that would only allow an SM-3 to shoot down a missile arcing directly overhead. To cover a 1000-mile swath, it would need a range of 1200 miles, something the big GBI can accomplish.
The CBO published a study on American plans for European missile defense in February 2009. It was secretly directed to assume that Iranian missiles would be programmed to fly an unusually low, depressed trajectory to remain in range of SM-3s and their limited radar coverage area. On page 51, the CBO notes:
"A lofted trajectory, which resembles a lob shot in tennis, may allow a missile to fly above the range of sensors or interceptors, thereby evading or delaying detection or engagement. ... For this report, the Congressional Budget Office assumed that enemy missiles would be flying minimum-energy trajectories, with thrust termination used to reduce the range from the maximum."
So the report admits that if the Iranians fired their (yet to be developed) missiles on a normal ballistic trajectory (pictured), they would sail far above the proposed missile defenses. In addition, page 18 of the report hints that CBO figures assume the miraculous goal to more than double the range of the SM-3 with a "Block IIB" model has been accomplished, when none have been built: "Other issues, although relevant to the topic at hand, are beyond the scope of the analysis." That is classic doublespeak, and a hidden warning to careful readers. If an issue is relevant to the topic, it would be considered, unless the CBO was secretly directed ignore it.
As a result, the ceiling limit of the SM-3 is not mentioned anywhere in this report. Its performance is not mentioned anywhere on the large U.S. Missile Defense Agency website. Otherwise, everyone would conclude that an SM-3 Block II could only shoot down an Iranian missile fired at Europe if it were positioned along the Turkish border. It could reach the ascending missile during the boost phase, assuming the Iranians were kind enough to fire it within 100 miles of the border. Shooting down an incoming missile head-on during its terminal phase is more difficult due to its higher speed, and the warhead will hit near its target even if intercepted. In summary, the 2009 CBO report assumes that Iran will develop nuclear weapons and complex warheads, the proposed SM-3 "Block IIB" with twice the range actually exists, that Iran will build longer-range missiles and program them to fly a low "depressed" trajectory directly over SM-3 sites, and that Iran will foolishly fire them at Europe to trigger a massive nuclear retaliation.
In October 2011, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, publicly reassured Russia that the current and planned SM-3s were no threat to their offensive missiles. "They would be ineffective as anti-missile interceptors against a country like Russia, whose strategic deterrent missiles are launched from deep inside its territory", he said. "These are smaller missiles [and] can't reach that far."
Exactly! But since Iran is just as far from Europe as Russia's missiles, the smaller SM-3s that can't reach that far are no threat to Iranian missiles either! It is obvious that this proposed "missile defense" is just a ruse. There are five groups promoting this fraud:
1) Some American Generals and the CIA want their own turf in Poland and Romania. This irritates Russia, and they consider that a good thing since harsh words from Russians help justify their budget.
2) Raytheon is selling dozens of very profitable $13 million SM-3 missiles each year, even though they've never demonstrated a missile shoot down at more than half the range needed to down an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile in mid-course.
3) American shipbuilders are collecting billions of dollars to refit Navy ship radars with a missile defense capability, and building more.
4) American Admirals have found a new purpose for their destroyers and are demanding more with an excuse they must keep destroyers on station in the Black Sea and Sea of Japan to shoot down missile threats, even though their missiles lack the range needed.
5) American contractors are excited to build and support another two American military bases overseas.
There is no need to build and man two new American bases in Europe at a time when the U.S. military is cutting back, especially if they serve no purpose. There is no threat to Romania or Poland or all of Europe. If a missile threat arises, the Europeans can buy American missile defense systems and build and man their own bases. Congress should hold hearings on the SM-3 missile defense scam and prohibit the expenditure of funds for any new bases without approval. Congress should also review the Navy's recent decision to spend several millions more dollars each year to homeport four destroyers in Spain beginning in 2015, with the bogus excuse that it puts them closer for missile defense missions in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. This will cause a loss of jobs and spending at their current American homeports.
Congress must put a halt to this blatant European missile defense fraud, and ask the Pentagon why American taxpayers should fund such a program even it were viable. Congressmen must be aware of deceiving terminology. A missile's range is much greater than its ceiling (what altitude it can reach) because of gravity. Also, listed missile performance is often a program's goal, or something "proven" by contractor salesmen using computer models. They must demand "demonstrated performance in actual testing of the SM-3." Finally, an SM-3 needs a ceiling of at least 1000 miles to provide effective mid-course defense against missiles fired from Iran, compared to 130 miles today. In reality, it is far too small to reach the needed burnout speed, and no amount of research and development can close that big gap. If Congress shows the courage to publicly question the Pentagon's self-devised European missile defense plan, the nation will be appalled at this scandal.
Carlton Meyer editorG2mil@Gmail.com
Mar 4, 2017 - SM-3 Fraud Update
Dec 1, 2014 - GAO Expresses Doubts
The GAO is the investigative arm of Congress and has followed this issue. Its new report says of its trusted sole source for its past reports: "DoD's report did not include key details". The new GAO report notes that key performance tests keep getting delayed. Meanwhile, millions of dollars are spent each month for new ships, missiles and bases for these "untestable" missiles.
Mar 16, 2013 Update - Plans for Bases Questioned
The Obama Administration has just announced these bases may not open! This was spun as an effort to improve relations with Russia, although this article notes: "A slew of recent reports by congressional and defense analysts suggested the interceptors might not work." It also quotes Tom Collina, research director at the Arms Control Association. "We give up nothing since Phase 4 was not panning out anyway. This is a win-win for the United States. "
Sep 17, 2012 Update
This "Aviation Week" article notes the National Research Office determined that SM-3s are too small. When they write "lacks speed" they also mean it lacks to rocket power to reach high enough. A higher speed at burnout provides more range. This major news was stuck at the end of the article, and dismissed by the industry friendly "reporter" as a "contention."
"However, the report contends, 'Phase IV of the European PAA may not be the best way to improve U.S. homeland defense. The speed of the Phase IV interceptor will need to be greater than can be achieved with a 21-in. missile to avoid being overflown by lofted ICBM trajectories from Iran if the interceptor is based in northern Europe (Poland)."